In a 29 per cent turnout, Transport and General Workers' Union members voted by more than four to one to keep its political voice and thereby its links with Labour. Although neither ballot papers nor propaganda material referred to the party, more than pounds 2m a year of the pounds 3m fund ends up directly or indirectly in Labour's coffers.
The T&G's vote begins in earnest union campaigns to keep their funds. The Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union won an overwhelming 'yes' vote last year.
T&G members voted by 193,725 to 42,194 to retain the fund, which represented an 82.1 per cent 'yes' vote. The union said the 29 per cent turnout was the highest recorded by any union in a postal ballot under present legislation.
Bill Morris, the union's general secretary, said the result was an overwhelming endorsement of trade unionists' rights to campaign on political issues.
The vote will enable the union to sponsor Euro MPs for the first time together with a switch in emphasis away from campaigning at Westminster to influencing the decisions of local authorities.